Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey #3)

192892The wealthy old woman was dead – a trifle sooner than expected. The intricate trail of horror and senseless murder led from a beautiful Hampshire village to a fashionable London flat and a deliberate test of “amour” – staged by the debonair sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. Here the modern detective story begins to come to its own; and all the historical importance aside, it remains an absorbing and charming story today.

Review:

Listening to this book cemented my love for Ian Carmichael’s narration.  I’ve since watched bits of the BBC series, where he plays Wimsey, and you get the feeling he’s doing loving caricatures of his fellow actors.  I couldn’t help thinking, “he out-Bunters Bunter!”  Just delightful.

Unfortunately the mystery in Unnatural Death is my least favorite so far.  We have a good idea who the murderer is but Wimsey and his crew have a hard time getting motive, means, and opportunity  to align.  Genealogy and the vagaries of inheritance law play key parts, and neither sketching family trees nor debating the legal meaning of the word “issue” work well on audio.

Even with a less than enthralling story line I enjoyed hanging out with the regular cast of characters, and I’ll be saving the next book in the series for a literary “rainy day”.

Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey #2)

192888Rustic old Riddlesdale Lodge was a Wimsey family retreat filled with country pleasures and the thrill of the hunt – until the game turned up human and quite dead. He lay among the chrysanthemums, wore slippers and a dinner jacket and was Lord Peter’s brother-in-law-to-be. His accused murderer was Wimsey’s own brother, and if murder set all in the family wasn’t enough to boggle the unflappable Lord Wimsey, perhaps a few twists of fate would be – a mysterious vanishing midnight letter from Egypt … a grieving fiancée with suitcase in hand … and a bullet destined for one very special Wimsey.

Review:

I loved the first Peter Wimsey book, Whose Body?, and have been doing my best not to blast through the entire series.  I’m saving them for when I need a fun, thinking, comfort read and Clouds of Witness delivers.

This time I went with the audiobook and I have a much better grasp of the characters now that I’ve heard them.  It must be hard to do British narration, having to take into account geographical accents as well as those of class, and Ian Carmichael does a great job.   The scene with a drunk Wimsey is pure gold that left me giggling.

The mystery itself kept me interested and guessing… the latter isn’t a high bar considering this is me, but hey.  I enjoyed the twists as well as the meta comments Sayers puts in here and there.

Here’s the thing, though – I don’t know if I want to continue the series in print, which shows off the writing, or on audiobook, where the characters come to life.  Have you read the Peter Wimsey series?  Do you prefer audio or print?

Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey #1)

Synopsis:

18006728Lord Peter Wimsey spends his days tracking down rare books, and his nights hunting killers. Though the Great War has left his nerves frayed with shellshock, Wimsey continues to be London’s greatest sleuth—and he’s about to encounter his oddest case yet.

A strange corpse has appeared in a suburban architect’s bathroom, stark naked save for an incongruous pince-nez. When Wimsey arrives on the scene, he is confronted with a once-in-a-lifetime puzzle. The police suspect that the bathtub’s owner is the murderer, but Wimsey’s investigation quickly reveals that the case is much stranger than anyone could have predicted.

Review:

I knew I would love Sayers as soon as I read the dedication:

Dear Jim: This book is your fault.

Then add in the awesome Lord Peter Wimsey, about whom everything has already been said by people more eloquent than I, and I was in love. Continue reading “Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey #1)”